Father of English novel
Novel has been perfected and matured by Fielding as a distinct genre of English literature. He is the innovator of the traditional English novel, which lasted for about a century. He is to English novel what Shakespeare is to English drama. He deserves this title in many ways. Without reading Fielding s novels, we cannot understand English novel and its development. He is rightly called “father of English novel”. Inspite of having certain trace of exaggeration, it contains a lot of truth. It was for the first time that English novel flourished itself on a vast panorama of life. Reacting against idealism of Richardson, he presented man’s interactions with the people, with whom he lives. Though the treatment of plot and characters lack deep artistic treatment, he has been in apposition to present main essentials of human nature and interactions of the vast group of the people engaged in the struggle of practical life. Fielding appears to be true historian of his time. This implies that he is critic of his times, and this is for the first time that novel has been used as conscious
criticism of manners and customs of society. Fielding’s greatest work is “Tom Jones It is the novel which makes him the great innovator, the founder and father of the tradition, followed in England till Jane Austen replaced it by another type of nov Fielding’s novel may be called “The Novel of Panorama”. This kind of novel expresses an architectural effect, as we find “Tom Jones as a work designed and shaped artistically. Another contribution of Fielding is that he is the first writer to focus in such a way that the whole world comes within the scope of the novel. We are astonished by the diversity of scenes and characters which enable us to paint a complete picture of society Fielding also indicated that nature might occupy place in the novel of future. Before Fielding, localization of the scenes didn’t greatly trouble the story-teller or reader. Literary pilgrims wonder about the search of the same style what the Fielding possessed In Tom Jones Fielding considers more carefully the problems of geography and, thus, he works it out. His novel “Tom Jones” fairly establishes his reputation as the father of English novel. Here, he achieves what has never been achieved by his contemporaries. The novel becomes conscious criticism of life and presents Fielding’s view of man and his society. It was for the first time that darker side of man was presented. Here, for the first time, we see tolerance for sexual transgressions Fielding’s view of human nature: Fielding describes human nature as theme of his novel Tom Jones”. But his use of the term human is not unequal. He gives various interpretations of what he means by this term. He has given a vast social panorama of comedy to show different variations of his concept of human nature. Though critics have taken different meanings of Fielding s concept of man, it is not very difficult to
say what he means by human nature. To him, human nature, in its right blend, is the mixture of ue appearances in form of instinctive animal leeling and intellectual theories, rigid moral dogmas, economical conveniences doctrine of social respectability. In simple terms, i turns out to be judicious blend of instinctive feeling and intellect But he wants to show how people have suppressed their animal instinctive feeling under the intellectual formulas and code of social respectability Thus, his plot shows a development towards final revelation of the characters representing various attitudes or ways of life. He does this by revolving his novel on the principle of contrast Structurally, the plot funcuons towards exposing variously contrasted sets of the characters, who in their terms are representing dilferent ways and attitudes man has adopted in negation of his inner feeling or reality The main contrast is between its unheroic hero, “Tom Jones” and villain, “Bilfil Tom Jones is real representation of human nature whereas he learns with all difficulty the appropriate balance between the instinctive feelings and intellectual thoughts. He frequently yields to instinct and in doing so shows the naturalness and rightness of instinct as an important constituent of personality. It is his character which corrects the over emphasis on formal appearances, which we see in other characters. In the beginning, Tom Jones shows a remarkable absence of that useful social sense, which we call discretion. It is lack of thus discretion which damages him and causes confusion to others. During the course of action, the novel shows him mature in attaining a balanced mixture of instincts and intellect. Even in the beginning, he has a splendid human nature because it is free of any mask. To Fielding, indecency is the adoption of the mask for the sake of appearances through inherited disposition or acquired pre-dialection As opposite to heart and generous nature of Tom Jones, Bilfil shows shrewd and calculated nature suppressing the life of instinct. He is the representative of those distorted values of society against which Tom and sophia fight. He represents the upper classes’ concern for property and happy marriage. Again, there is contrast between Galsworthy and Mrs. Deborah Wilkins. Galsworthy has a compassionate nature and is also remarkable for his high-minded ethics. Mr. Galsworthy compassionate and honest discovery of the foundling is set in contrast. This reaction shows genuinely compassionate character of Galsworthy and his humanity because his reaction is humanitarian towards the child as a foundling, a child helpless and demanding sympathetic attention towards his misery. But Mrs. Deborah takes this as an occasion for pouring out her vicious passion upon the supposed mother. Again in this situation, we have contrast between Miss Bridget and Jenny. This situation, full of insight into complex human motive and passion, is kept ironically by square Galsworthy’s simple, well meaning sermon on chastity directed against poor Jenny. Galsworthy’s human attitude to the foundling shows his good nature. Conclusion: Fielding appears to be true historian of his time. He is master in creating characters out of the contemporary society. His characters are very life-like. He himself said, “I describe not men but manners, not individual but the species Fielding’s deep study in the social and psychological problems of man allowed him to judge the basic hypocrisy in the man and creates a living character. His comic creations resemble with the characters of Chaucer and Shakespeare.